If your idea of storing out-of-season clothes involves shoving everything in a garbage bag and stuffing it under the bed, listen up. If put away the right way, your things will look as good coming out as they did going in (read: no yellowed fabrics, stale smells or pesky bugs).
To learn how the pros store their stuff, we asked Carolyn Forte, Home Appliances, Cleaning Products and Textiles Director at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, to share her best tips. Commit these to memory before you pack your things away for the season.
Clean everything. Is it a pain to wash everything before you pack it away? Yes. Is it a must-do? Absolutely. As Forte explains, stains–even the ones you don’t see now–can oxidize and yellow over time and become next-to-impossible to remove. Plus, stains attract insects, who feast on them while simultaneously wreaking havoc on the fabric. “The only time I wouldn’t clean something is if maybe it has been only worn once for a brief time and you know for certain that it isn’t soiled,” she says.
Pick the best storage spot. Resist the urge to stash stored clothes in the attic or basement. Both spots are notoriously hot, humid, and inhospitable for fabrics. Instead, find places that are cool and dry, like under your bed or in a closet in the main living area.
Choose the right container. Hard plastic containers are usually fine for holding everyday items in the short-term, but your best bet is to place folded clothes and bedding in an acid-free, breathable storage box. Likewise, hang-up clothes should go on sturdy, padded hangers wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and hung in a breathable garment bag. Caveat: Ditch the plastic dry cleaner bags–they can damage your clothes over time.
Fold carefully. Forget tight rolls or military creases. Forte recommends folding items softly and cushioning them with acid-free tissue paper. Add a little extra padding for delicates or clothes with sequins, beading and other embellishments.
Beat the bugs. The best (and easiest) way to prevent moths and other fabric-munchers from setting up shop is to wash items before you store them and keep storage boxes closed. If you’ve already got a bug situation on your hands, pick up a box of moth balls. Though smelly, they’re your only option for eradicating moths. Better-smelling cedar and lavender will only repel them.
Know when to go off-site. Tight on space? Try storing bulky things, like comforters and coats, and extra-special items like an expensive sweater at the dry cleaner.
Where do you stash your out-of-season clothing?